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Management of the frozen shoulder

Authors van de Laar S, van der Zwaal P

Received 14 July 2014

Accepted for publication 1 August 2014

Published 7 October 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 81—90

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/ORR.S71115

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Clark Hung


Suzanne Margaretha van de Laar, Peer van der Zwaal

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma, Medical Center Haaglanden, The Hague, the Netherlands

Abstract: Frozen shoulder is a very common condition with a prevalence of 2%–5% in the general population. Decrease in joint volume as a result of fibrosis and hyperplasia of the joint capsule leads to painful and restricted glenohumeral motion. Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting disease with a chronic character, and is mostly treated in a primary care setting. In this review, we set out to address the current evidence-based literature on management of this disabling disease using a PubMed search. Many non-surgical and surgical therapeutic options are described, including supervised neglect, intra-articular corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, manipulation under anesthesia, capsular distension, and arthroscopic capsular release. In the literature, the long-term outcome shows a significant decrease in pain and improvement of shoulder function for all treatment modalities without clear evidence of superiority of one over the other. This possibly indicates that a self-limiting character is the most important factor in the course of the disease. Management of frozen shoulder is primarily conservative. Supervised neglect is combined with analgesia and stretching exercises as the pain subsides. In the early painful phase, intra-articular corticosteroid injections are recommended for pain relief. When the patient has persistent pain and glenohumeral stiffness after adequate conservative treatment, invasive options can be considered, like arthroscopic capsular release, manipulation under anesthesia, or capsular distension.

Keywords: frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis, treatment, pathophysiology

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